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N High, Clark Memorial Int'l take titles at All Japan High School esports Championship

N High School students hold up the All Japan High School esports Championship Rocket League Division trophy after clinching victory on Dec. 25, 2021, in Tokyo's Toshima Ward. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

TOKYO -- The All Japan High School esports Championship Rocket League and League of Legends finals were held on Dec. 25 and 26, with N High School taking the title in Rocket League, and Clark Memorial International High School Clark Next Akihabara winning the League of Legends crown.

    N High School, a championship heavyweight, was defending the title in both divisions.

    The semifinal and final matches of Rocket League, a game in which teams of three operate flying battle cars to play soccer, were held in Tokyo on Dec. 25, following entries by 161 teams from 108 schools.

    N High School (Okinawa Prefecture) beat Kani Technical High School (Gifu) 3-0 in the best-of-five semifinal, while Fukui Senior High School (Fukui) defeated Anan Technical High School (Tokushima) 3-0. In the best-of-five final, N High School quickly took three games in the against Fukui to emerge victorious.

    The games had kicked off with the other semifinalists united in a single goal: to take down N High School. Pressure was also high on the defending champions to take home a win.

    "I transferred schools to participate in this competition," said N High School ace player and third-year student Shoki Minamigawa. Unable to gather enough members to enter the competition in both his first and second years of high school, he chose to transfer. Minamigawa enrolled in N High School, a correspondence high school, for his third and final year. The school boasts many players and has dominated high school esports.

    After training with his teammates and analyzing footage of each match, Minamigawa was able to improve his gameplay. "It was a good experience," he said of his first and last championship. "Everyone played well."

    All Japan High School esports Championship League of Legends Division winners Clark Memorial International High School Clark Next Akihabara hold their trophy in Tokyo's Toshima Ward on Dec. 26, 2021. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

    The final four teams in the League of Legends Division went head to head in Tokyo on Dec. 26. Five-member teams worked together to take the opposing team's Nexus using varying attributes of playable game characters, called champions. Clark Memorial International High School Clark Next Akihabara (Tokyo) won against Art College Kobe (Hyogo Prefecture) in the final.

    Art College Kobe had taken down Renaissance Osaka High School (Osaka) in the first semifinal match. In a shocking second match, Clark Next overwhelmingly defeated two-time champion N High School to move on to the final. Clark Next claimed two wins against Art College Kobe in the best of three final for the school's first championship victory. A total of 164 teams from 114 schools had entered the League of Legends competition.

    League of Legends Division winners Clark Memorial International High School Clark Next Akihabara play during the All Japan High School esports Championship finals on Dec. 26, 2021 in Tokyo's Toshima Ward. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

    "Until now we have been stuck in second place. Consecutive wins and consecutive semifinal wins are completely different," said Clark team captain Shiyu Kijima, a third-year student. During the 2019 All Japan High School esports Championship, N High School beat Clark in the final match. Clark also suffered a loss to N High this summer at another tournament.

    Racking up training with both schoolmates and outside higher-level players, they polished their skills. Kijima said, "Everyone improved quite a lot, and we went into the finals feeling that we were equals (with N High School)." He credits their victory to this mindset.

    The All Japan High School esports Championship is organized by the Japan High School esports Federation and The Mainichi Newspapers Co. First held in 2018, the competition aims to promote a new esports culture in Japan and foster student growth through teamwork. From the third championship forward, it has been backed by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

    The number of participants has grown each year, with roughly 2,400 students in 773 teams hailing from 367 schools competing in the fourth edition of the tournament. The livestream archive of the Fortnite, Rocket League, and League of Legends finals and other matches can be found on YouTube.

    (Compiled from reports by Shun Morino and Issei Takizawa, Sports News Department, and Shusaku Sugimoto, Sports Project Department)

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